After hackers released files to the public taken from the Fraternal Order of Police, the largest union for law enforcement officers in the U.S., analysts have begun to examine heaps of data uncovered in the cyber attack. A wealth of information has been found in the 2.5 GB of released data, especially in the contracts between police and city officials which offer guarantees that complaints against police officers will be kept hidden.
Analysis of 67 leaked police contracts by the Guardian revealed that about a third of the contracts between police and city authorities discussed how civilian complaints against officers, departmental investigations, and internal discipline of officers should be destroyed. 30% of these records included “provisions barring public access to records of past civilian complaints, departmental investigations, and disciplinary actions.”
Police unions have been accused by Black Lives Matter protestors of impeding investigations into police misconduct and police brutality and for actively participating in the destruction of evidence against officers, such as in the Baltimore Police Department’s handling of the death of Freddie Gray.
The documents show the use of “expungement” of reports against officers or internal investigations in many towns across America, usually mandating that this data be “purged” a specific number years, or in come cases mere months, after an incident.
Black Lives Matter activists argue, however, that there are too many conflicts of interest for the police to impartially investigate their own members. “Beyond the role nepotism and cronyism continues to play in the corruption of law enforcement, there is an inherent distrust of the police’s ability to keep communities safe,” said Delaine Powerful, an organizer in the Black Youth Project. “We cannot trust a system born out of slave patrols and night watches to conduct its own criminal investigations into unnecessary and unwarranted force by police.”